Monday, 16 February 2015

Top Community Developer Farah Khan Hosts Brilliant Books

This week, we welcomed well known community developer Farah Khan to Brilliant Books. Farah currently works for Nottingham City Council, helping to integrate new students at the Universities into Nottingham life. She's worked with unemployed people, people needing advice and has just finished working with homeless charity Framework. 

Farah is a prodigious reader and after today, I can safely vouch for her skills as  presenter. She managed to get the group of children - who were excited about a parallel visit of old boy Craig Westcarr to the school - interested in recycling and community refuse bin responsibility.  

Then she read from popular author Judy Blume's work

and asked the children to go away and design a poster about community recycling.

Then finally, the session concluded with a NASTY DEADLINE from the EDITOR about the young people's short stories. As it is half term this week, they have until Wednesday the 25th to write their stories and hand in to the editor. There were some moans and groans, I can tell you, but a rallying call from Bev Rolley, the teacher we worked with last week, saw most of the authors make a determined vow too beat the deadline

Just three sessions to go on Brilliant Books at Seely School. We resume again on Wednesday 25th with Masai poet and oral heritage specialist Valentine Nkoyo

See you next time, Mark

Interview with Judy Blume

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Brilliant Book are On Fire!...with Fire Education Officer, Lorraine Langley

This week's host was Lorraine Langley, Education officer for the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In easily the most interactive hosting so far, Lorraine bought a full presentation on Fire Safety that had the young people running around and rolling about simulating an escape from burning houses, one which Phil and me were dying to join in - however, time was against us :-)

Lorraine's introduction was moving. I won't go into detail, but she was open about her upbringing being a tough one and she talked about how books were an escape, an escape she has kept up with to this day, despite being the busy mother of an only mildly dysfunctional family. 

Lorraine also talked about how reading helped her in her career, how it helped her gain a law degree at night school, and how she transmits her love of reading to her two boys; like many, bewitched by the siren song of console games.

She read from CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, a famous high fantasy children's novel which inspired her as a child. You could have heard a pin drop.

I wanted to ask Lorraine why the Fire Brigade is no longer called the Fire Brigade, but time overwhelmed us and, after healthy fruit and a runabout, it was time to get the stories sorted out for Scribes of Seely II.

Brilliant Books is funded by the Big Lottery Fund

Phil asked them to create a short piece where the main character in their stories - the protagonist - sets off on a quest to slay a fire-breathing dragon. 

I wanted to point out that dragons have become much more popular (indeed, protected) since the days when the patron saint of England and the Lebanon went round slaying them, but I was too busy transporting kit to and fro. Changing attitudes towards dragons notwithstanding, the group entered the spirit of the exercise with gusto: One of the girls, Emma, managed to get six people into her quest and wrote a dialogue between them.

Phil asked them to read out their pieces as usual and once again, there were no shortage of volunteers.

Then, finally, the young people were asked to add an action point to their stories (a conflict, a gamechanger).  

I took a lot of photograph requests this week and we all took this as a big sign that the young people were enjoying themselves and certainly, after Rae Gee's brilliant session last week and Lorraine's this, the atmosphere certainly caught fire, to labour a metaphor.

Next week, we have noted Community Developer and school Governor, Farah Khan joining us as host and the young people have two weeks to get their short stories into order before the Ed gets hold of them. Hope you are enjoying this as much as the Brilliant Books team are.


PS: At the beginning of the session,  Lorraine recounted hearing on the radio that children who read for pleasure were thirteen times more likely to get on in life. I struggled to find the research despite tweeting like a budgie all week about it. However, I did find this terrific PDF which goes a long way to pointing out why kids should read for fun.

Kindly dragons

Fireman Sam and the Fire Brigade